Interview with Tom Smith

Tom smith 1

Music mogul Tom Smith shares his background in the music industry, musical faves and reveals what he has in store for us at Cosplay Cruise and Japan Underground events.

How did you become interested in Japanese music?
By accident while I was in school. I liked making mix tapes and I was trying to impress a girl who I knew liked Japan and rock music. Way before the likes of Youtube and Spotify it was pretty hard to find new music… now the tables have turned, music’s getting my full attention – girls can wait!

How did your interest in Japanese music develop into a profession?
Also by accident! I was writing for NEO Magazine at the time and I tried to convince the editor that people in the UK do have an interest in Japanese music. She let me test the waters with a feature on a band called An Cafe. The response from readers was immense she’s let me write about music ever since, every issue. That was 3 or 4 years ago. From there I hope I’ve been able to inspire a lot of other people to take a listen and find some great bands. That’s the whole point behind the events I run (Japan Underground) and the record label (JPU Records).

miyavi-sama2Who is the one musician from Japan you would love to interview and why?
I’ve interviewed everyone I’d like to interview already but I’d like to speak to Miyavi on a personal level. I’ve interviewed him several times, every time has been nothing short of inspirational, but professionally we’ve crossed paths with some of the same people, and I don’t have that same kind of connection with anyone else (famous or not), so it could be fun to share stories together.

Who you wish would come to the UK for a tour and why?
If you asked me last year I would’ve said Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Perfume or One OK Rock. Now all of those are happening. Next I want Capsule, GLAY or Radwimps.

For someone like me who is new to Japanese music, what artists would you recommend I listen to?
That’s a bit like saying “I’m new to the music of the UK, recommend me a British song!” Like what? The Beatles? Prodigy? N-Dubz? It depends what kind of music you currently like. That said, WORLD OF FANTASY from Capsule usually gets a few new comers asking what it is when I play it at Japan Underground.

tom smith 2As well as making music you also write about it, how did you become involved with Neo magazine and what’s the best part of the job?
I’m not sure if ‘making’ is the right word, but I’m certainly ‘making’ it more available and in the public eye. Or at least trying! I started writing for NEO by chance, I used to write for a few video game magazines (GamesMaster, MCV) and NEO used to come to the offices and it was different to anything else going on here, and I wanted to be a part of that. The best part? When readers come to JPU Records stall at MCM Expo or Hyper Japan and tell me about the bands they’re into – and when some of them say they got into them from NEO, I do a mental ‘success kid’ pose in my mind. Then I tell them I’m the guy from NEO and their jaw drops XD

You are also the director for Japan Underground, any key events we should keep an eye out for?
Yes, every Japan Underground event is a key event. Every single show for the past two years has had a great line-up, like nothing else going on in this country. FACT are using a fan-shot video from their show at Japan Underground to officially promote their new album in America – that’s amazing! When [Champagne] played I had to contend with crazy Japanese fans, they stripped the whole venue of [Champagne] posters and even somehow managed to track us down to the after party. Though that might have been the singer’s fault, he told me he cryptically wrote about the after party venue in one of his songs – maybe fans connected the dots and took a punt? Or they’re psychic…

cosplay cruise 1What can attendees expect from you at the Cosplay Cruise?
I go for the more heavy tracks, whether it’s metal or electronic, if it’s loud and powerful I’ll probably play it. Though the Cosplay Cruise is different to my usual crowd, so I’ll keep that in mind when planning my set, and will most likely wing it on the day depending on the crowd’s reaction.

You can catch Tom’s set at the Cosplay Cruise on Saturday 6th July. The ship sets sail at 6.30-7.00pm

League of Extraordinary Cosplayers are selling tickets with a 20% discount, please purchase from this link

Photo Credits – Tom Smith –